The Proof is in the Pudding
I often remind my friends that there is more to a loaf of bread than meets the eye. To me, even the most beautiful artisanal loaf – the kind we all crave, and are willing to drive miles to buy – has a lot more to offer than a simple slice of bread. I’ve come to depend on bread as an ingredient in recipes. Things like seasoned croutons for Panzanella or Fattoush (2 kinds of bread salad); bread soup, or crumb topping to make something special of even the simplest dishes. And my personal favorite: Bread Pudding.
What I love most about bread pudding is its artisanal character and versatility. When making a dessert version, the puddings can be rich and gooey, like our Black Forest version, topped with a scoop of ice cream and drizzled with a rich Fudge Sauce (or warm Cranberry Sauce). Or they can be light and refreshing, like our Lemon Blueberry version with Warm Lemon Cream Sauce.
There are seasonal versions, like our Cranberry Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Maple Rum Sauce; or Strawberry Rhubarb with fresh, warm strawberry jam drizzled on top. During the holidays, we make an Orange Cardamom version, loaded with dried fruit and nuts. Truly, when it comes to bread pudding, the sky is the limit!
And as much as we love our sweeter bread puddings, we love serving savory versions almost as much. Baked in individual custard cups, they can make a beautiful appetizer, or side dish with heartier meats, game, etc. Or if you’d like something lighter as a main course, make a savory version in ramekins and serve with a side salad.
Not only are bread puddings stunningly beautiful and delicious; they are also amazingly simple to make – which is one of the big reasons I love to make them. Since I’m primarily a savory chef, I’m not as accomplished at baking as I’d like to be. So the simplicity of bread puddings is very appealing to me. That’s because any bread pudding recipe is more of a formula than it is an actual recipe that needs to be followed to the letter (like most baking).
All bread puddings start with – you guessed it – bread! (No, really?). Almost any kind of bread. Simple artisanal breads; nutty breads; quick breads; I even use Stollen and Pannetone for holiday versions. A lot of chefs I know start their bread puddings with biscuits. The choice is yours.
Of course, you’ll need eggs, and milk or cream to create a custard. Then you can add fruits (dried or fresh), nuts, liqueurs, and seasonings as you desire to create the flavor profile you’re seeking. Or in the case of savory versions, you can add meats, poultry, or seafood; vegetables, and cheese.
Finally, you can do some pretty amazing things with the sauce you’re going to drizzle over the top of your warm bread pudding. My personal favorites for sweet bread puddings include fresh orange juice or apple cider; maple sugar and syrup; bourbon, and rum. Sometimes, I even use eggnog. For savory versions, I usually make a light cheese sauce to drizzle on top.
So this holiday season, I hope you’ll join me in making some amazing bread puddings for your guests. I promise you, you’re going to love making them. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ll come to depend on them and make them part of your culinary repertoire. So much so that you'll find yourself making them all year long.
If you’re looking for a little guidance, check out some of our bread pudding recipes at: https://www.morningstarkitchen.com/recipes